Chelsea and Liverpool are desperately trying to hang on to the coattails of relentless leaders Manchester City, who opened up an 11-point gap at the summit with their 11th straight win at Arsenal yesterday.
The Blues currently occupy second place despite a last-gasp draw with Brighton to finish 2021, though their opponents – who have a game in hand on both their title rivals – are only a point behind in third.
Chelsea’s record signing outlined his frustrations at the club during an explosive interview recorded in mid-December that only aired this week and his manager has not taken the criticism lightly.
As for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp confirmed three more unnamed Covid-19 cases in his squad on Friday and will be absent himself today due to a suspected positive test.
Assistant boss Pep Lijnders will lead the Reds instead as they look to secure a third straight top-flight away win against Chelsea.
Follow Chelsea vs Liverpool LIVE with Standard Sport’s blog below, including expert analysis from James Robson at Stamford Bridge!
Standard Sport’s prediction
A loss here would likely be a hammer blow for either side’s title ambitions, so it seems reasonable to expect a relatively cagey affair.
Chelsea have certainly not been near their best in recent weeks, but Liverpool struggled themselves last time out against Leicester.
Both sides will be desperate for the three points to close the gap to Man City, but it would be no surprise to see a draw at Stamford Bridge.
Jurgen Klopp won’t be on the touchline…
Liverpool will be without their manager for this afternoon’s clash at Stamford Bridge after Jurgen Klopp registered a suspected positive Covid test.
The German is isolating with mild symptoms, and assistant coach Pep Lijnders will lead the team against Chelsea instead.
The Reds announced on Saturday that they have no further fresh cases among the playing squad beyond the three Klopp already announced, but added that three backroom staff members have now tested positive.
Liverpool team news
Jurgen Klopp has not named the three Liverpool players who have tested positive for Covid.
The visitors will definitely be without injured duo Thiago Alcantara and Takumi Minamino, who missed the 1-0 defeat at Leicester with muscle soreness. Andy Roberton is still suspended so Kostas Tsimikas will continue at left-back.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita are available for what is likely to be the final time before they head off to the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Divock Origi, Adrian, Harvey Elliott and Nat Phillips are all out.
Liverpool predicted XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Jota, Mane.
Chelsea team news
Romelu Lukaku will not be in Chelsea’s match day squad this afternoon, following an explosive interview in which he revealed his frustrations at the club.
Thomas Tuchel admitted he was ‘not happy’ with the situation and he has taken the decision to drop the striker entirely. You can read more about that here.
The news is more positive regarding Thiago Silva and Timo Werner, who have both returned to full training to ease the club’s injury crisis.
Chelsea are still waiting for scan results to determine how long Reece James will be out after he suffered a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw with Brighton, but a six to eight-week timeline has been suggested.
Andreas Christensen was also forced off against Brighton and is expected to be out, but N’Golo Kante is fit again after re-injuring his knee against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
Chelsea predicted XI: Mendy; Silva, Chalobah, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Werner, Havertz
How to watch Chelsea vs Liverpool
TV channel: Today’s game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Ultra HD. Build-up will start straight after the Brentford vs Aston Villa match.
Live stream: Sky Sports subscribers will also be able to watch the action unfold online via Sky Go.
Or….. get minute-by-minute updates right here with our blog!
Welcome to Chelsea vs Liverpool LIVE coverage
Good afternoon and welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE coverage of what is essentially a Premier League title eliminator in west London today.
The loser of today’s huge clash between Chelsea and Liverpool will surely be out of the race as both sides bid desperately to keep runaway leaders Manchester City in sight.
City are now 11 points clear after registering their 11th consecutive win thanks to Rodri’s last-gasp goal at Arsenal yesterday.
Chelsea’s plans for this game were heavily disrupted by Romelu Lukaku’s explosive interview with Sky Sports in Italy that was conducted in mid-December but only aired on Thursday, in which he expressed his frustration with the club and manager Thomas Tuchel.
Tuchel has reacted strongly by dropping the Blues’ record signing completely from today’s match day squad.
As for Liverpool, assistant manager Pep Lijnders leads the team with Jurgen Klopp absent due to a suspected positive Covid-19 test.
Kick-off today is at 4:30pm GMT, so stay tuned for all the latest match build-up, team news, Lukaku fallout and live updates, including expert analysis from James Robson at Stamford Bridge.